In a recent column, a reader reported a phone call he had received from a man who said he represented Rollins Protective Services.
The reader was told that there had ben a burglary in his neighborhood and was asked whether his house is protected by a burglar alarm. His mouth had said "No" before his brain got into gear and scolded him for revealing to a stranger that his house is unprotected. What if the man on the telephone wasn't really a salesman? Suppose he was a burglar looking for easy pickings?
I was quick to agree that these days one must be careful what he says to strangers. When in doubt, say nothing -- and very little of that. Gold's Law teaches that a zipped lip spills no beans.
Two interesting comments on that column are now at hand. The first is from a woman in Vienna who requests anonymity. She writes: "We had the identical situation. They phoned and found out who has security systems. Same company you mentioned.
"Over the long weekend (Memorial Day) which I will remember a long time. To come home at 4 p.m. to find our kitchen door wide open and our home burglarized.
"A pillow case (king size, Yves Saint Laurent) taken off the bed. A jewelry box and all (gold, silver and junk) also sterling silver items. What will they do with my pin, which I received when our oldest son received his Eagle Award in Boy Scouts? Please return. Also other items taken, including TV."
The other letter was from Jennie, who did not ask for anonymity but whose last name will not be used here because I don't want to expose her to risk. Jennie wrote:
"I also had an experience with Rollins, or somebody who said they were from Rollins. Same spiel: 'There's been a breaking-and-entering in your block.'
"I asked how he knew; what was his name and phone number etc. I said I'd call him back after I checked it out.
"Then I called our mayor, who lives about a block from me, and asked her. She contacted our police department and called me back with an answer of 'No.'
"I then called Rollins and asked to speak to the manager and complained about his salesman and his tactics. He assured me that this was not a policy they approved of and that he would severely reprimand the salesman."
Well, what can I say? If the shtick about "a burglary in your neighborhood" is merely a salesman's attention-getter, you've got to admit it's a dandy, albeit somewhat deceptive. But if the caller is a burglar, not a salesman, the deception is far worse. And there's no way to know for sure who this stranger is. No way.
So, as was noted even before the telephone was invented, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." Q & A & Q
We were discussing the great problems of the day as we waited for the replate (edition) to come up from the press room. The subject was Castro's announcement that we would have to keep all the "chicken thieves, prostitutes and gamblers" he had sent us. He wouldn't take them back.
"That raises an interesting question," I said. "Inasmuch as we don't want the criminals, either, what do we do with them?"
One of my colleagues snorted. "We do with them what the airborne does with people who aren't sure they really want to jump," he said. "We strap parachutes on them and when we get them over Havana we boot their tails out of the airplane."
And if Fidel shoots at the plane, then what do we do, tough guy? WHAT A PROBLEM!
The father of the World's Greatest Grandchildren thinks I am a difficult person to get along with. He asks, "On Father's Day, what the hell do you do with a man who never wears a necktie except to weddings and funerals?" THE MALE ANIMAL
Bennett Moser Willis of McLean says he overheard this gem while riding on the subway:
"Talk about belt-tightening -- I've already cut back on movies, dry cleaning, gasoline and food. If things don't start getting better pretty quick, I'm going to have to cut down on beer or cigarettes."
I have no sympathy for a man who gives up that easily. This spineless whippersnapper hasn't even considered stiffing the landlord for a month or two, yet he's already talking about doing without the bare necessities of life. WELL, THAT TELLS YOU SOMETHING RIGHT THERE
Sid Yudain, editor, publisher and the most profound columnist on Roll Call, noted in last week's issue:
"Ramsey Clark went to Iran and offered himself as a hostage. Even they didn't want him."